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N.West Nassau County- Chow-Worthy?

A very good friend moved to Great Neck....I've been helping unpack and explore the new neighborhood; we've been having some trouble finding anything exciting....or even more than just serviceable. I've checked the boards and have tried several things in Little Neck (La Baraka was disgusting; Greek Seafood Grill place was fine but overpriced -$40- fish for one-; Korean in Shopping center near Dunkin Donuts Very Good/Great Service; Turkish on Northern - Good but standard)
Liked Oliver Bon Didant on Hillside Ave, but it was a little too dainty; been back several times to Riverbay (Williston Park) - solid fresh fish/love the waitstaff - professionals all. Pan Asian in Great Neck Plaza mall was pretty good, but uncomfortably packed....Mexican on Grace Ave - BLECH.

Please, help. I need an epiphany...I need excitement....I need an omigd moment or two......Anything? Delivery? a great Persian Grocery? Solid Weeknight fare? Fine(ish) dining that isn't as lame as Burton & Doyle, which seemed like a TGI Friday's on an expense account...

I've been through the boards....been to Luger, Umbertos, New Teryaki house on Jericho....we're trying here!

Great Neck, New Hyde Park, Floral Park, Manhasset, .....Please, what's under the radar? Where's the best slice? Eggplant parm? Fish Taco? Anything good? Why can't I find Thai food!?? What's up?

Thanks for your help. We are bored and hungry.

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  1. Definitely Ravaugh (Persian) and CHicken Kebab (Turkish-greek styled stuff) on WIllis Ave are very good. And they put a new outpost for Colbeh on WIllis ave---Persian Kosher..Both very popular places, always crowded..also, Attilio's has good pizza, and exceptional eggplant ricotta pizza...

    1. A few suggestions in your radius: King Umberto's in Elmont for pizza, Stressa in Manhasset for high end Northen Italian. As for Thai food, if you want the best head into Queens. Sorry to say nothing on the Island comes close. Sripraphai in Woodside and Chao Thai in Elmhurst are two of the best.

      2 Replies
      1. re: MKS

        Hi MKS,

        I have to disagree about your Thai food comment (Sorry). You should try Onzon 2 on Hempstead Turnpike in Franklin Square. My wife and I love the crispy duck in garlic sauce and most of their other dishes are wonderful too.

        Happy Eating to you!

        1. re: dereklaw

          Hi dereklaw,

          You have every right to disagree. That's what's so wonderful about this board. Just curious, have you been to either of the places I suggested?
          If you have and feel Onzon 2 is just as good, I will make it a must to try.

      2. If you were not wowed by Lugers then I don't think anything in the area will impress you. If you think La Baraka is disgusting and enjoyed Riverbay, then we have very different taste, but in the spirit of helping a fellow hound get a good meal I have a few suggestions. Conti's in Little Neck is my favorite local Italian.If not Lugers(I can't believe I just wrote that) try Bryant and Cooper. Head over to the area of Lakeville Road and Union Turnpike/Hillside for Indian food, Kerala Kitchen is a very unique place. Afghan Kebabb House on Hillside(over near Marcus Ave) is very good. Try Hildebrands for the an old fashioned soda fountain experience,but stick to burgers,sandwiches and the homemade ice cream and fountain drinks. Bistro Limon in Roslyn is solid french in a nice looking restaurant.
        Sadly, this is not a very chowish area. In fact, tonite I brought home Thai from Srip and yesterday Q from Texas Ranger. I do most of my chowing in nearby Queens, the center of the food universe. You will not have an "epiphany", but good luck and if we missed anything let us know.

        4 Replies
        1. re: stuartlafonda

          Oh. Your reply made me realize how much I seemed to be ranting...sorry....and, sorry for not being more clear. I am consistently wowed by Luger (been to GN, but usually go to Williamsburg), and it's still a special event. BTW, went recently w/ a friend who is a well-done-meat-eater, and so I had the lamb chops-YUM.

          I mentioned Umbertos, Luger, and the Teryaki House as examples of places that I've enjoyed....and to make clear that although I don't post often, I do eat often :)....and that we've been trying to explore/not just post for help without doing any legwork. In fact, please know that I appreciate your opinion; it's clear that you care about your food. Thanks.

          More for clairty: I've enjoyed Riverbay, for the quality of the fish and the professional service. It's not exciting, but sometimes a really fresh piece of fish does the trick.
          In fairness, I was to LaBaraka only once. Unfortunately, the escargot were mushy/mealy, the muscles were actually foul-'never should have been served foul', and the fish in the Coquielle St. Jacques was over the hill. Almost every dish was overrun with tarragon. I was particularly upset, because I was trying to introduce some classic French food to a kid. She picked at a salty rendition of French Onion soup, and I thought about that and the Zuchini sticks of my own youth (at the Wine Gallery in Forest Hills. Heh.)

          So, with all of that said, thanks again. We'll definitely try Kerala kitchen. I have not heard/not been there yet!


          P.S. Went to Ayhan's fish place in Port Washington for dinner last night. Tasty baked clams and bulghar...Good grilled squid too...unfortunately the broiled fish combo was seasoned with an unwelcomed season salt kind of spice mix and cooked in fake butter substitute....why, why, why? ;) More soon.....

          1. re: Wanda_Gorgonzola

            A big second to Conte's in Little Neck!

            1. re: Wanda_Gorgonzola

              I had no problem with your post, if I did, I would not have tried to help. A few more ideas have come to mind. You should try L.L. Dent for upscale soul food. It is located in a shopping strip mall across from the old country road entrance to Roosevelt Field. Leisa Dent a CIA graduate does very good versions of the traditional stuff like fried chicken ,mac and cheese and banana pudding and does a full menu of other things with a southern touch. Place is small, but comfortable and simply decorated. They do a Sunday brunch that has a good selection at a good price. Sunday brunch is not easy to find in the area. Although I have not been there in a year, Lareira is a Portugese restaurant in Mineola in a small and rapidly shrinking Portugese enclave. Another interesting place is Royal Tangra Masala for Indian/Chinese food on Hillside east of Marcus avenue. It is not quite as good as the Tangra place in Queens off Queens Blvd, but it is solid. If you are interested in razor thin crust pizza, get a pitcher of beer and a large pie from Eddie's on Hillside.If you just want a good slice, try La Vera across the street from Eddie's. A few days ago a a couple of hounds hounds gave rave reviws to Hummus World by Roslyn H.S., it is near the top of my list of local places to try. Finally, if you are a gyro fan, head over to Northern and Francis Lewis for a meal at Fontana,a personal and board favorite. If pork gyro is your thing, Fontana does not do it, but a few blocks west on Northern is Gyroworld and they make the one I like, others on the board prefer the one up Francis Lewis, at a place called Gyro Corner. Once again, good luck in your quest for great food.

              1. re: stuartlafonda

                Thanks, man.

                Funnily enough, we went to LL Dent for lunch yesterday. Nice place. Good feel. Great corn bread (moist). Mac and cheese was, dare I say, light! So good, not a gloppy mess at all. Lerved the greens! Made w/ smoked turkey and xtra twangy goodness. I took a pass on the pulled pork, but I'm looking forward to going back for dinner.

                Thanks again and to all of the respondents....please keep the info coming, and I promise to report back.


                P.S. Ginos Pizza in Great Neck...Odered Delivery (didn't like the pizza - crust too pastry like) sent a really solid eggplant parm hero though....would get it again....thin, not greasy and sauced appropriately....really very good.

          2. You have to go to Salvatore's in Port Washington. They have great thin crust coal oven pizza. Besito in Roslyn is great higher end mexican, steps up from a meson ole type menu.
            I posted previously that the restaurant at Harbor Links has some really great food. Their Thai calmari is exceptional. I have alos had their Aji Amarillo glazed shrimp and it was impressive. La Terranova in Glen Cove used to be a great low key Italian place. Good quality Southern Italian. I havent been there in 3 months, so I cant comment on recent experiences.

            1. Just a couple extra tips close by in Little Neck: There is a shopping strip right off the LIE westbound exit 32. In the strip is a Denny's Childrenswear and Mazurs kosher market and restaurant. Well, in that strip mall there is a really, really, really good pizza place - Centre I believe it's called that also has tables in the back. I've often seen people eating meals there but its extremely - and I say that with great emphasis - casual. They have daily specials and while I can't vouch for the pastas and entrees, the pizzas - all varieties we have had, are excellent.

              Also in that same strip mall about two stores away from the pizza place is a very good bagel place, one of the few that actually is still a great bargain in addition to having great bagels which is more and more of a rarity these days- buy a dozen bagels and it gets you 19 - they give you seven free.

              Oh, and not far from there - up the road in Douglaston is a fantastic Italian Restaurant called Il Tuscano. Authentic, fresh, creative and...very expensive but wonderful.

              1 Reply
              1. re: laylag

                ive been a fan of center pizza little neck and umbertos since the late 1960's

              2. Italian near Great Neck: Italian in this area should be a lay-up but it isn't. I'm in Manhasset (next door to Great Neck) but I find I have to drive a bit to my favorites in the area - here they are for now: Stella's on Jericho Tpk in Floral Park - total throw back to the 70s in terms of decor, but the Stella salad, Chicken Romano, and Pork Chops with hot peppers are to die for. La Parma directly across from River Bay was the precursor to Carmine's in the city. Large plates of food - family style - ask the waiters for guidance. Chopped salad beats the La Parma salad in my view. Baked clams, penne marinara, and pork chops pasquale are winners. So is the chicken scarp. I never get to River Bay, because if I'm over there, we're at La Parma. Just don't go at 7PM - no resos and you'll have to wait. In Manhasset, try Cafe Continental - a bit clubby, but the owner and waiters are great once you're a regular and the food is solid. Haven't really found any good Italian in Great Neck but I'm sure there must be some. Believe it or not, I like Pancho's for mexican there. One other place worth trying nearby you is Vespa on Northern Blvd. And Aunt Bella's on Marathon Pkwy is a tiny hole in the wall with old-style italian food (try this one later in the list.) One more in the miracle mile in Manhasset - Il Cippolini - new york feel, good thin crust - hit or miss on the pasta dishes - my wife likes the risotto specials. That's it for now. Anybody else out there please chime it - we're bored and desparate too!

                2 Replies
                1. re: donnyp

                  Best Italian in Great Neck, now that Pulcinella is no longer around, it would be Mangia Bene!

                  1. re: Tresjolie9

                    We just got back from Magia Bene (thanks to others for answering my query below!). They were running some kind of pasta night featuring a few pasta dishes, and I ordered the gnocchi, which was quite possibly the worst dish I can remember having at an Italian restaurant ever. Size of gyoza, consistency of licorice, covered w/ about an inch of meat sauce and then apparently baked. I got about two bites in and gave up. The dish weighed at least 2 lbs. I would have sent it back but seeing as we were the only people in the place, I just didn't want to deal with whatever would ensue. Green salad was ok. Bill ran $65 for two w/ drinks and tip. Won't return anytime soon, but may not be able to if that was any indication of the road ahead for them.

                    We had a decent dinner at Wild Ginger the other night - ordered "Thai style crabcakes", chicken sambal and crispy snapper entree. Beautiful presentation on everything, fresh meat and veggies, but despite selecting "hot" spice level for the sambal, it was actually more sweet, almost like sweet-and-sour chicken. It's billed as 'fusion' which I guess explains the zucchini in a sambal. However, I was told the chefs were Chinese, and come to think of it, if I'd been bilndfolded, I'm not sure I could have distinguished this from a very good Chinese take-out - everything was sort of Hoisen-sauced, if that makes sense. That said, we enjoyed the good quality of the food, strong drinks and excellent service, and will return.

                    Ok, back to L.A...

                2. I live in Great Neck (past 16 years), but I have young kids, so take this with a grain of salt, since we don't get to explore as much as we would like.

                  One of our usual favorites are Pancho's (not great Mexican by any chance, but consistent) -- their skirt steak is excellent, and they have really good salsa. They also make a good burger, but stay away from the ribs.

                  For Asian, I really like Wild Ginger (in the shopping center by Waldbaum's). It's a bit fancy, but the quality of the food is superior to most other Chinese places in town. Pearl East (on Northern Blvd. across from Macy's) is the best of the rest, imho.

                  Also in the Waldbaum's shopping center, I like Starfish Too. I've only eaten there once, but I'll definitely go back.

                  I agree that there is no good Thai, nor is there any good Indian. I haven't tried the new Thai place by the movie theater, but it is the latest in a long succession of mediocre places, although the previous iteration (O'Zone) was a pretty good Thai-French hybrid, but it didn't make it.

                  I like Gino's pizza, and agree with the eggplant parm (especially with hot cherry peppers), but you have to like the thick soft crust. Their eggplant slice and salad slice are both very good.

                  The Seven Seas diner (Northern Blvd. and S. Middle Neck Rd.) is great -- salads, burgers, and the usual diner fare. I usually avoid other diners because of how much I like this one.

                  Nothing remarkable for Italian, and I haven't yet found one of the kosher places I would go to unless I had to because of kosher relatives.

                  Hope this helps. I'm also curious to hear what everyone else has to say.

                  1. Rialto in Carle Place on Westbury Ave is an old fashioned Italian place with great food and service. I'm also a big fan of Conti's. Trattoria Lucia has good food, but is too noisy for my taste. The Japanese place on Covert, about two blocks south of the train crossing (can't remember the name) is my favorite Japanese in the hood lately. I second the votes for Tangra Masala on Hillside. On Mineola Blvd, south of Jericho is A Taste of Portugal and a few blocks further down is Boulevard Ste. Germain, both of which we have enjoyed.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Scribbler

                      Never heard of Boulevard Ste. Germain, anthing you can tell us about the place? There is such a lack of Bistro style French in the area that I'm intrigued.

                      1. re: Scribbler


                        Can you tell me more about the Japanese on Covert? I pass it often and was wondering if it was "worthy." Do they have a good selection of creative rolls? Also, how is their cooked food selection. My husband doesn't do raw.

                        I'm assuming you've found the sushi to be very fresh, or you wouldn't be recommending it.

                        Thanks in advance.

                      2. It's Bistro Saint Germain. Same owners and almost exactly the same menu as Bistro Citron in Roslyn and Bistro Cassis in Huntington. I've eaten at all three a number of times and like Bistro St. Germain the best out of those three. It's also reasonably priced for Long Island.

                        1. The very best bakery in your area, and indeed on Long Island IMHO, is "Diane's" in Roslyn (under the Roslyn Viaduct). Try it on a Saturday morning or Sunday morning for best selection (make sure to include a piece of the hungarian cheesecake! with your order!). For the last word in bagels, try the bagel store on Middle Neck Road, across from The Food Emporium, and ask for hot bagels from the back of the store (just out of the oven). I'm not impressed with the pizza in Great Neck, but would suggest the coal-oven, thin crusted pizza from Grimaldi's in Garden City (on Franklin Avenue)..although extra oregano and/or garlic is needed to give the bland tomato sauce some life. For dim sum, "Northern Manor" on Northern Blvd in Little Neck, is good on a Saturday or Sunday, late-morning. Hope these are helpful.

                          1. There are also some good places in Eastern Queens! Marbella on Northern Boulevard is nice for casual Spanish food, don't forget the Sangria.

                            Harvest Buffet on Northern Boulevard is a lot more than a simple chinese buffet, they have some pretty interesting Korean and Chinese dishes that I have only seen in Flushing and Chinatown.

                            Greek Isles on Northern in Little Neck has always impressed me, always go when I have a gyro craving, but end up ordering something else. Last time I had what was essentially pot roast, with a twist of lemon.

                            The diners around also tend to be fairly impressive. Love the "turkey chopped steak," special at Seven Seas. Scobee does an excellent turkey burger.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Tresjolie9

                              I agree with the above post about Marbella, though I have not been there for a while. If willing to try eastern Queens, also consider Altadonna on the LIE south service road, I believe just east of Marathon Parkway, for Italian. Owner/chef does a fantastic job with some authentic Italian country dishes you won't find on the typical Long Island "red sauce Italian" menu. Red sauce Italian does have it's place though, and Stella's (on Jericho Turnpike in Floral Park) is definitely the place to go for it. And last but not least, Donovan's in Bayside still has the best burger in the area, better than anything I've found in Nassau County anyhow (have never tried Luger's burger though).

                              1. Hi...Masala Wok in Hicksville is truly amazing. They serve Indo-Chinese Hakka-style food and the quality of their shrimp (off the top of my head, I adore their coriander-garlic shrimp) and chicken are of such high quality (everything is Halal to my knowledge) that I drive out from Fairfield Co. CT weekly to indulge in spices, textures and flavors that I still dream about since moving to CT from Oyster Bay a year ago. They are not open Mondays, and close at 3pm, then reopen at 5:30 for dinner. I could go on and on about so many dishes! Just hop on the LIE get off at Hicksville exit, it is close to the train station. Yum...

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: schnarf

                                  We moved to Manhasset over ten years ago and still head to Astoria when we want a good Greek meal. Don't waste your time or money on Mykonos on Plandone Rd. In Little Neck, however, just east of the Scoobie diner on Northern Blvd., I can sincerely recommend Greek Isles. In fact, I need to make reservations there for tomorrow as soon as I'm done here. When you want a really good Italian dinner, Stressa does a great job. It is on Northern Blvd near Barnes and Nobles. It is a little pricey but worth it. We have used that for special occasions. For a good Chinese dinner we go to Peart East, opposite Macy's. I saw that you mentioned RiverBay. RiverBay, Bryant and Cooper, as well as Cipollini and the brand new Toku, (the latter two are at the Americana Mall), are all owned by the same family. I believe there are four brothers. They are Greek and they do an excellent job at all of them. My son and FIL just went to Toku for their anniversary and loved it. I have been to Cipollini only for lunch. You have lots of choices. Don't settle for the mediocre ones.
                                  I still have not been to Ethos in Great Neck. I'll be back to read your responses more thoroughly. Someone may have some feedback on that.

                                  1. re: LIMary

                                    Ethos is the best local Greek, far better then Greek Isles. The meze platter is terrific and the fish, though expensive, is also excellent. They still don't have a beer/wine liscence so you can bring your own or buy a bottle from the store around the corner from the restaurant.

                                    1. re: stuartlafonda

                                      I was there for dinner on March 14th and brought a bottle of wine - my friend went the following Friday and they had just received their liquor license that Tuesday! By the by, had a delicious whole grilled orata.

                                2. Here's my 2 cents worth:
                                  Port Washington:
                                  Italian: La Piccola Liguria (excellent!)
                                  Pizza: Salvatore's Coal Oven Pizza
                                  Korean/Vietnamese: Mama's Delight
                                  Japanese: Yamaguchi or Rock N' Saki
                                  Japanese (Manhasset) Kotobuki
                                  Japanese (Sea Cliff): Sea Cliff Coffee & Sushi Co.
                                  Mexican (Manahasset): Besito
                                  Mexican Take-out (Roslyn): Green Cactus (best fish taco!!!)
                                  Chinese: Shanghai Pavillion
                                  Diner: Seven Seas (i totally agree with Lloyd on that one overall, though i do like the spannakopita at the Port Washington Diner on Main St.)
                                  Weather Permitting: Bad Bob's BBQ (pretty good fried clams!)
                                  Bakery: Diane's in Roslyn, or Baked to Perfection in PW
                                  Ice Cream: Emack & Bolio's in Manhasset

                                  If i think of more, i'll add it later.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: monalisawoman

                                    How about Toku? And, you should be able to pick one of the steak restaurants up there.
                                    Excellent grilled fish:Ayhan's Fish Kabob.
                                    The original Diane's Restaurant in Roslyn is great too.
                                    If you get to know the sushi chefs at Hokkaido in Roslyn Heights you can have some of the best sushi around.

                                    1. re: monalisawoman

                                      What is Bad Bob's BBQ and where is it?

                                      1. re: debmom

                                        I have not been to Bad Bobs but Harbor Q was good enough to satisfy a Q craving when I want Q with the family and don't want to drive into the City.

                                        1. re: debmom

                                          Bad Bob's is in Manorhaven, but they are also opening on Main Street. The Manorhaven location is right on the dock at the Capri Marina, and it's a great place to go in the summer. You'll feel like you're on vacation! I can't speak for the meat, but the fired clams are plump & juicy, and the sweet potatoe fries are delicious.

                                      2. been going to umbertso since the late 1960s

                                        1. I seem to consistently have divergent opinions from some of the regular posters, but here is my two cents anyway -

                                          Pizza - Joe's on Marathon Pkwy in Little Neck (just South of the LIE)
                                          Turkish - Kebab House on Northern Blvd.
                                          Chinese - Harvest Buffet is surprisingly good, but if you don't feel like the self-serve aspect, Pearl East is a good solid 1960s Chinese restaurant
                                          Bagels - Bagelman in what is now the HMart shopping center on Great Neck Rd at Northern Blvd. Their Egg Everything and Pumpernickel are both outstanding.
                                          Trattoria Diane on Bryant Ave in Roslyn for a good solid meal

                                          Restaurants that everyone else likes, and I won't go back to -
                                          Ethos on Middle Neck Rd - snooty, bad service, and the food tasted nothing like the wonderful stuff I had all over Greece
                                          Wild Ginger in Waldbaum's shopping center - I cannot deal with a restaurant that is unwilling to make substitutions. Too full of themselves. I asked for the Tuna to be served with a vegetable or salad instead of the delicious noodles (not on the diet of the moment) - Oh no, we cannot do that. Well, then, I cannot patronize a place that does not value its customers.
                                          Tulip by the Post Office - was served mixed frozen vegetables. And when I ordered a fruit plate for dessert, I was served a sliced apple.
                                          Seven Seas Diner - terrible. And unsanitary. Have gotten wadded up napkin in my tuna fish scoop, cigarette butt in my salad. Why would I go back?

                                          7 Replies
                                          1. re: Bigbird

                                            I don't really disagree with you other then on the restaurant Ethos. I don't doubt your service was bad but my experience on the ree occasions I have dined there was very different. The last time I went was with my two kids and they could not have been more accomodating. First, they honored our request for a banquet and then brought my younger childs main with our meze plate as requested. This was on a busy Friday night at prime time. As far as the food not being anything like the food you ate in Greece, all I can say is that I also have spent time in Greece and while I don't dispute your opinion I don't know where you can find authentic Greek food. I have eaten at most of the places in Astoria and other then the small place by the park none of the others would qualify as serving authentic Greek cuisine. I think of Ethos in the same way I think of Lupa, not an authentic Roman Trattoria but a New York take on one.

                                            1. re: stuartlafonda

                                              Il Tuscano.in Little Neck would be a really good choice

                                            2. re: Bigbird

                                              My mother-in-law used to have an expression, "that's why they make chocolate and vanilla ice-cream." I happen to really like Wild Ginger, mainly because I have yet to find a restaurant in the area that has their variety of Asian inspired dishes at a reasonable price. If I were on a diet where I couldn't eat their food, either I would choose somewhere else, or pick something else on their menu, it certainly is big enough.
                                              My son loves Harvest, and it might be good as one of the buffet-type restaurants, but certainly not anything to write home about. East on route 110, although not in the Great Neck vacinity, is far superior.

                                              1. re: robinsilver

                                                I'm with you on the Wild Ginger issue, in fact the first post I ever wrote on chowhound after a year of "lurking" was in defense of the place. I still go there a couple of times a year.


                                                1. re: stuartlafonda

                                                  I'll chime in as well in support of Wild Ginger. I agree, though, that it's ridiculous when a restaurant won't make a simple substitution, and I've certainly refused to go back to restaurants that offend me in some way. Still, I think Wild Ginger is the best of the bunch of the "new" Chinese/Asian restaurants around (Matsuya and Elaine's being the other Great Neck examples).

                                                  I'm disappointed to hear abou the Seven Seas, although I've heard other people say that they don't find it to be the cleanest or best diner around. Maybe I've been lucky, but I usually find the food satisfying (I still think they have the best burger -- not counting Lugers -- around), and I've always thought it was quite clean.

                                                  I also think Ethos is very good, and certainly a little better than Santorini (which I really like for atmosphere) or Greek Isles.

                                                  And Bagelman rocks! If only H-Mart would finally open.

                                                  1. re: LloydG

                                                    I was one of the first people to rave about Ethos. We went last Sat. night for the third and final time. First, they stuck us in the back room behind a table of 30 which was having a party and next to another party of 10. I asked to be moved and they offered us the bar to which I replied, "we'll wait for a table". We promptly were shown to a new table. It was very noisy, even noisier that Mim's which caters to families with kids. There are never kids at Ethos on Sat. night and usually a little quieter. My husband and I could barely have a conversation. And to add insult to injury, our waiter was the worst. He was running back and forth all night and because there were groups larger than us we were more or less ignored the whole night. He brought my husband the wrong appetizer and by the time he brought a new one I had finished my salad. The second bread basket (which we asked for twice) came charred. I can't eat onions or garlic and told the waiter exactly this before I ordered. My side order of string beans was loaded with onions and was returned for the lemon potatoes. When the bill came we had a $50 gift cert. from restaurant.com and they looked annoyed. My husband noted they had overcharged us for our two glasses of wine so they quickly deducted $5 from the bill. Next they said the credit charge machine wasn't working so they wrote out our AMEX number on a piece of paper with the total due. My husband added a tip and we left w/o any sort of receipt -- but I did remember the total amount. When I checked my AMEX statement, sure enough they overcharged us. And as we speak the amount is in dispute. So based on our experience I will not only never go back (even on a less crowded night) but stick to my favorite restaurants in Astoria -- Cavo, Agnanti, Mezzo Mezzo, Philoxenia and Demetrios and L'Incontro for Italian. I'm equidistant so I'm now convinced there is nothing great east of Queens.

                                                    Good news on the sushi front. We finally tried Kotobuki in Roslyn last night and it certainly was worth the 28 rating Zagat gave it. You have to go well before 7 PM as it's a mob scene and they don't take reservations. We only waited 15 minutes and had some of the freshest sushi and most creative looking appetizers. I assumed it was like Toku in Manhasset and a fortune but very reasonably priced. My second runner up is Blue Fin in Great Neck (f/k/a Saku, and before that Oyama).

                                                    1. re: debster

                                                      Toku in Manhasset is Yummy with a capital "Y"

                                            3. Wondering if anyone has anything more to add/update on this thread. We're visiting (from L.A.) with in-laws in Great Neck. Been to Gino's for pizza, Zutto for sort of Japanese-ish Asian, Seven Seas diner, Bruce's bakery, the bagel store across from the small, now-closed supermarket on Middle Neck Rd., walked to tiny Willie's coffee shop, and at least one totally forgettable Italian place that I passed twice today and still forgot the name of (Rustica?).

                                              Gino's was pretty great, the cheese slice being extremely cheesy (but in a very good way) and the crust light; my meatball sub had what I guess are called cherry peppers, which maybe are a Northeast thing? Unexpected and probably an acquired taste, just not by me. But really nice staff. The meatballs were obviously freshly-made (not like the frozen/rubbery ones in 90% of L.A. pizza joints, so awesome.

                                              Zutto was a lot like other "Japanese-meets-Chinese" places you don't find on the West Coast, but totally serviceable (though the buttery Central American-style rice w/ Birds-eye veggies was sort of a jolt). Seven Seas was a good diner, but I can barely tell them apart.

                                              Bruce's had great mini-hamantashen which I am going to eat another one of as soon as I finish this post, and the bagel place was as good as any I've been to in these parts.

                                              And finally, Willie's was a surprise in that they serve black beans and plantains with breakfast plates; not the best ever, but good to break up the diner fare.

                                              What am I missing if I don't want to drag everyone to Queens? Ethos looks interesting. Is there really (still) no good Italian??

                                              6 Replies
                                              1. re: cant talk...eating

                                                Drag them to Queens, it is so close. If you must stay I think Ethos is the best restaurant in town. Check out Toku on Northern Blvd for a "good ripoff" of places like Nobu and China Grill. Try the empanada's at the little bakery next to Willie's where a Peruvian baker makes kosher desserts.Go to Pearl on Northern for the kind of good old school chinese american food you may not be able to find on the west coast.

                                                1. re: cant talk...eating

                                                  The thing about Great Neck people is that they don't want to leave Great Neck, but then when a restaurant like Starfish opens, they don't go often enough to keep it open, but love to go to places like Daruma for sushi, just because they don't want to leave GN. If you go over the boarder into Little Neck on Northern Blvd, there are a number of good places, and it is just as close to you as anyplace else on the island. I know the OP said LaBaraka was disgusting, but I disagree. Also, the original Colbeh is in GN, right by the rr station, great for Persian food.

                                                  1. re: robinsilver

                                                    The sushi restaurant f/k/a Saku, f/k/a Oyama now known as Blue Fin is delicious and a block north of Daruma. Everyone runs to Daruma which in my opinion is mediocre at best, it's just been in GN the longest. We've tried Kotobuki in Roslyn twice (28 in Zagat) and is fab. Their appetizers and rolls can't be beat, you just have to know when to go. Sunday nights in the Summer seems to be the least crowded; Sat. night after 6:30 there's a long wait. If you want to go more for more upscale Japanese food, try Nissen Sushi in Woodbury.

                                                    1. re: debster

                                                      I second Blue Fin. It's the best sushi in town, and the owner (Alex) is a really nice guy. I like Wild Ginger, but I agree with I can't talk...eating that it is essentially Chinese takeout style but with high quality ingredients. If you like Chinese takeout, it's great, but it doesn't hold a candle to any of the Queens Asian restaurants. Ethos is good as well.

                                                      By the way, where is Willie's? I've lived in Great Neck for 17 years and I've never heard of it, but black beans and plantains for breakfast is a must.

                                                      1. re: LloydG

                                                        Willie's is 809 Middleneck, east side of Middleneck just north of the intersection of Middleneck and Steamboat. It must have been a candy store soda fountain place years ago as it is small and narrow with a formica counter running the lenghth of the place. I 'm not a big fan of beans and plaintains for breakfast so I was unimpressed the one time I ate the "Caribbean Breakfast". My wife, a non chowhound, loves the pollo guisado but I find most of the spanish menu pretty pedestrian.

                                                        1. re: LloydG

                                                          Went to Wild Ginger years ago. I agree it was very good but to avoid a long wait you have to go at 6 PM on Saturdays. Really don't want to dine so early. I have heard that Toku is very good but the portions are very small and it is very pricey. It's probably the former Millie's crowd. I don't need to be at the latest "see and be seen" trendy restaurant either. And in respose to Stuart's comment about China Grill, just so you know, it has gone very downhill this past year. Maybe because of the soaring food prices in general. Went two months ago and as crowded as it used to be that's how empty it is now. On a Wed. at 8:30 PM it should have been packed. The quality of the food presently is average at best. I work across the street and it was always my favorite Asian fusion restaurant in Manhattan. Baang in Woodbury Commons has the same exact menu and great mango martinis.

                                                  2. Love Fratelli Iavarone Cafe. 1534 Union Tpke. New Hyde Park. It is in shopping center between Lakeville Road and New Hyde park Road. While I am not a fan of creamy sauces their Carbonara is my favorite pasta dish anywhere. The veggie Napoleon is a creative appetizer. Fresh fish, seafood, Veal. I do not recommend the eggplant parm or the pizza. Pizza in front, restaurant in the rear. Next door to Iavarone italian specialty store. This is a true oasis for good Italian in a hard to find good stuff neighborhood.

                                                    1. Just back from another week in Great Neck, and some good eats to report.

                                                      Tulip - Turkish food just east of the train station. Went on a Friday night and it was practically deserted. Sort of an odd layout, w/ part of the restaurant a largish bar/lounge and the other a rather elegant dining room. The lounge featured a big plasma TV and a fellow in a track suit and a Bluetooth rolling calls in Turkish and pacing. But foodwise, really good stuff. Ordered the grilled whole striped bass which was flawlessly done, just sweet succulent fish as it always should be. We also ordered 'manti' - tiny dumplings with lamb in a yogurt sauce, sort of amazing. I guess I've stumbled onto a dish that plenty of people know and crave but which may not turn up too often in L.A. where we live? We started w/ 'zucchini pancakes' which were surprisingly light and latke-like, tasted freshly-made. Service was fine, prices a bit high but these guys are trying to survive like everyone else I imagine.

                                                      Next up was Mint, a Thai restaurant next door to the movie theater on the main strip through town. Like 100 different SoCal Thai restaurants with some sort of fusion-y specials (why do Thai restaurants put salmon on the menu??). Anyway, they were totally overwhelmed service-wise with only four tables filled; the waiter (also the cook?) coming back confirm our order three different times (and still brought the wrong salad, alas). Prices about double what you'd really want to pay ($23 duck curry? Uh-uh!). I think my pad see ew was $16. But, no liquor license, so still kinda reasonable in the end.

                                                      Foodwise it was fresh and tasty. The tom yum soup had hand-cut veggies and was obviously made from scratch. Panang chicken curry had all white meat, and a lightly-sauced, almost a dry-curry style. Nothing memorable, but good eats. Just don't have to run off to a movie - you might not make it!

                                                      Oh yeah - finally found something edible at Manga Bene - veal marsala. Not bad at all.

                                                      4 Welwyn Rd Ste 1, Great Neck, NY 11021